Monday, June 30, 2014

restaurant review: mccrady's (charleston, south carolina)

The McCrady's facade.
When I put it out there on social media that I was planning to go to Charleston, South Carolina, the interwebs said I ought to try McCrady's Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant in the historic old town.  It prides itself in sourcing ingredients from local farmers, and lists those sources on the menu.  That sounded like the food could be fabulous so, I made my reservations and off I went with hubby in tow.

The scene

I loved the building!  Because it was built in the late 1700s, I wasn't surprised that there was so much history inside.  It used to be a tavern and I bet one of the USA's founding fathers used to imbibe there.  Also, when the USA's first president, George Washington, visited the area, Charlestonians hosted a dinner for him at McCrady's. How awesome, was that?
Shrimp in tomato water.

The current restaurant is located in the old tavern's kitchen. Inside, it was a bit dark (or romantic, depending on how you want to spin it) due to all the old brick walls (and, it used to be a kitchen). But, there was a nice big fireplace, which I'd like to think was previously used as a stove by the colonial cooks.  If walls could talk, I bet they'd have lots of juicy and fascinating stories to tell.

The hubs and I both wore jeans.  He wore a short sleeved buttoned shirt and I wore a blouse.  We weren't told off for our attire but we did feel a bit under-dressed. Most men wore a jacket.
Cantaloupe, basil, radish
and ricotta.

The bar

We did not get the chance to check out the bar inside the restaurant.

The food

McCrady's menu was prix fixe. We had three options for the first, third and fourth courses, and two options for the second course.
Grouper with red cabbage and
black truffles

The first course started off with a bang! My shrimp with tomato water was delicious. The shrimp was perfectly cooked with a bit of a snap when I bit into it, and the tomato water had a clean flavor that went well with the sweetness of the shrimp.  My husband's cantaloupe with basil, radish and ricotta dish was so fresh and bright.

The second course, which was also the fish course, didn't work at all.  The first dish was grouper with red cabbage and black truffles. The grouper was a touch under cooked and I didn't taste any truffles. The second dish was snapper served with squash, baby leek, kaffir lime and tarragon. Interestingly enough, the snapper was over cooked, and the kaffir lime overpowered all the other veggies. The hubby actually found it inedible and left most of the food untouched.
Snapper with squash, leek,
kaffir lime and tarragon.

The third course was the meat course. I had an aged duck with a small duck confit cube (plated like an upside down exclamation point) and served with carrot, parsnip, parsley and orange.  The duck was cooked perfectly juicy and the confit was so rich.  I wiped that plate clean and wish I had more.  I think my husband was actually annoyed at me because I refused to share more of the duck confit.  In my defense... okay, I really can't defend my greediness.

For his meat course, he chose the ribeye served with beets and blueberry.  It was cooked medium rare so the fat melted into the meat.  It was enjoyable, although, truth be told, I enjoyed my duck dish better.

Roasted aged duck and duck confit
with carrot, parsnip, parsley and
The fourth and final course was the dessert course. We chose the peach tart served with peach sorbet, which I enjoyed because the fruit was so dominant and sweet. The pastry was also flaky, although a tad too sweet.

We also had the frozen parfait of grits with geranium and preserved dewberry.  Neither my husband nor I really remember how the dish tasted so I think it's fair to describe it as unremarkable.

Along with the bill, the server provided us with petit fours consisting of a pair of macarons (nice crust and chewy inside) and madeleines (spongy and buttery).  I will be honest. I scarfed all of them down and didn't share.  So, it is safe to assume that they were tastier than the frozen parfait of grits.

The service

The host and servers were all friendly.  There was, however, a lag in the actual service. After we were seated, it took a while to take our order. It also took over 15 minutes between the first and second courses.  To be fair, the other courses arrived in a timely manner.

Peach tart and peach sorbet.

Frozen parfait of grits.

Mignardises of macarons and
The price

It was not cheap.  It was $65 per person for the four-course meal.  With a cheap-ish bottle of wine, the meal set us back about $250 with tip. Was it worth it? I'm on the fence. I'm glad I went but I don't know if I will visit again next time I am in town.

How to get a table

I found it easy to make a reservation via OpenTable.  Otherwise, you may call (843) 577-0025.

If you have dined at McCrady's, do you agree or disagree with the above?